Saturday, March 24, 2012

4 Down, 16 to go!

Wednesday, February 29th:

This was a long day of travel and I spent many hours in airports due to the severe weather rolling across the middle of the country. Waiting wasn't fun but I felt so lucky to be safe and sound after seeing the devastating tornadoes that were being shown on airport monitors. My heart goes out to those who were affected.

Here's a photo taken out front of the hotel upon arrival on Leap Day... well, actually by the time I got to NOLA it was March 1st at 2:00a.m.... and look, still the city was alive!

Thursday, March 1st:

Woke up at 4:45 a.m. to get to Fox 8 News for a live TV interview on the local morning show. I haven't tried to post video links here, but if this works it will give you an idea of what it's like to get a few hours of sleep and then GET BACK UP to get the word out:

We did make it on the air but got cut off due to breaking news in NOLA. There was an officer-involved shooting which was later revealed as a tragic and complicated situation. Again, my hearts go out to those involved and hope the city of NOLA can keep healing in the wake of Katrina and the long, slow efforts of rebuilding the city and the trust of the people in the area. On a happier note, there were several local viewers who caught our story and at least one man is now in a ToeOFF brace and is elated to be BACK UP after years of thinking he would never walk normally (much less run!) again. Thank you, Fox 8, for helping to connect your viewers to real solutions.

Speaking of Hurricane Katrina, here's a memorial I passed as I walked around the city a bit:

On Thursday evening Jim and I walked around the French Quarter before retiring early. We found another cigar store... we have a few hand-rolled ones for you, Dad!

Beautifully eerie night in the French Quarter.

Bourbon Street... had to stroll the most famous street in town!
Friday, March 2nd:

I worked in the hotel all day, trying to write my posts for the Pasadena race and catch up on all my emails. I also checked in to the race Expo, got my packet picked up and talked with media throughout the day trying to schedule some coverage for Sunday's event. On Friday evening my good friend, Ashley Graham, showed us around her new home town... I highly recommend Ashley as a tour guide, especially for her plethora of friendships with artists, musicians and chefs in the area! Here's one of the highlights of the limited nightlife I experienced while in NOLA...

Saturday, March 3rd:

The day before the race is always a bit unsettling... so much to do to make sure we have plans ironed out for race day, plus the usual "Get Back Up" sign to make (which involves a trek to a drug store to buy foam core and streamers). For the record, you can't buy streamers in the French Quarter. Anywhere. So we settled on a foil boa, plus one extra leftover Mardi Gras feather boa for me to wear. After everything was pretty much set for the race and all my race-day clothing options were fanned out on the floor of the hotel room, I decided I could meet Ashley out for dinner. Usually I eat in and go to sleep early, but tonight was special. 1) Ashley was free for dinner and I never get to see her anymore 2) The Tar Heels were playing Duke for the regular season ACC championship and 3) Both Ashley and I went to UNC. Clearly it was meant for us to watch the game on race-day Eve!

Ashley found us a great spot, 2 blocks from the hotel. It was a newly opened restaurant and sports bar, opened by Archie Manning (Peyton and Eli's dad) and we found open seats at the bar. They gave us snacks while we ordered... nothing I could eat 'cause they were Nawlins' pork skins... but that didn't stop me from being entertained by them. Notice anything in this photo?

Do you see the Frog? If you don't, have another cocktail and you may begin to see him. When Carolina beat Duke (very healing after they beat us at home earlier in the season) this Frog became our Lucky Frog. Ashely has informed me that he's still around and possibly even shellacked by now. Ashley has some strange hobbies. :-)

Sunday, March 4th... RACE DAY!!

I know y'all are probably thinking I just use the same photo over and over, but no. This is yet again another early race day start. We had to take a car to the finish line... we promised friends we'd get everyone back to hotels after the race. So we drove to the finish and took their shuttle back to the hotel to get ready for the race.

Waiting with the other early-risers on the first bus back to the French Quarter.

Great friend, Ashley, up and downtown early to be our race support crew. She carried our "Get Back Up" sign along the course and everyone in our party got to see her many times on Sunday. Wonderful job, Ashley... you were always a sight for sore eyes (legs?)!

After the race, meeting up with other very special friends, John and Mary Kramer from Raleigh, NC. These two are Rock 'n Roll rockstars!!! Jim's on the right, smiling after finishing much better than he expected and Ashley still toting the sign after a very long morning.

The Kramers!

The Competition! We seem to trade back and forth within 1 minute of each other... though she always finishes taller than me. :-(

The race crew Queen, Miss Ashley! Also taller than me...

Post race restaurant (we sat at the bar since we couldn't seem to get out of our running shoes and didn't quite meet the dress code). Ashley recommended this, Bourbon Street Cafe, I think, and it did not disappoint.

My meal: "Redfish on the Half Shell with caramelized onions and new potatoes". YUM!

Ashley recommended this, I think it was called a "milk punch" and it was to-die-for! Egg-noggy frozen goodness with nutmeg... perfect on a hot day after a long run and a great meal.

Things that make you say "Hmmmmm......"

Post race fun with the Kramers and Ashley (taking photo). This is the oldest bar in the French Quarter and has NO LIGHTING inside... it's all candlelight and very dark throughout. So we sat on the patio and took in the people-watching.

Cool area next to French Quarter, along Frenchman Street (or thereabouts). These houses are called "shotgun" homes because they're long and narrow and supposedly you can shoot a bullet from the front to the back without hitting any walls. This was on the Ashley Tour and next trip I hope to take her up on the tour of the greater NOLA area. On this day we stuck close to the Quarter but got to 3 places with great food and great music, all of which were recommended by Ashley. I will do the AT on every trip to NOLA, what fun!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3 Down, 17 to go!!


Sunday, February 19th
Yet ANOTHER early start. At least this is Pacific time so my body thinks its really 7:05a.m.

Tim Fenell with me in the Rose Bowl parking lot, waiting for the sun to come up so we can run!

Rose Bowl by "light" of dawn.

Tell us what you really think, Tim... :-)

Sun is coming up, now you can see my good-luck-Chilly-Tatt... don't worry, Mom, its temporary.

Oh, the fun to be had waiting for the Porta-potties...these are DMV-worthy lines!
Celebrity sighting!

I'm in Corral 3 waiting for the race to start... you can see the start line banner in the background.

Meeting a hero of mine, by pure chance we're in the same corral. I will write a separate blog entry about Sarah, but you should know that I was moved to tears when I got to meet her. She had no idea that I was inspired to GET BACK UP by watching her on TV in her first Ironman Championship attempt, it was the year I had my spinal fusion surgeries. And now I am really running beside her!

Another hero, Jeff Smith, who works for Allard helping so many, many people to Get Back UP. Thanks, Jeff,  for coming out to cheer me on. It was so nice to meet you finally!

Tim Fenell (Tim's 12 in 12 on Facebook!) and me after completing #3 for me, #2 for him.

My post-race lunch at Houston's restaurant in Old Pasadena... grilled salmon and asparagus, yum! If you don't know, I have been a vegetarian for 22 years (pesci-lacto-ovo now, but more vegan exploration on the horizon)

My husband, apparently, is on the Fred Flintstone diet.

We did it! 3 down, 17 Rock 'n Roll's to go. Official time, 1:55:53. It was a hilly course but perfect weather, beautiful neighborhoods.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Race Day Eve!

Saturday, February 18th

4:30 a.m. wake-up, just to make sure I'm ready for tomorrow's early day. After coffee, a short walk and several hours of computer work I am headed back to the Half Marathon Expo to meet a new Facebook friend, Tim Fenell.

If you aren't connected to Facebook you didn't see his story: briefly, Tim lost 128 lbs. in 15 months! He did it all on his own and yet still battles self-esteem issues and emotional pain. In an attempt to help others who may feel similarly, he vowed to run 12 Half Marathons in 12 months this year in hopes of inspiring and motivating others. Please visit his page:

Somehow Tim found our Get Back UP page on Facebook, and our mission to run "20 in '12" and sent me a message. We were both struck by how similar our stories are (different health issues, but same level of challenge) and we wanted to help each other spread the word about "getting back up", no matter what the obstacle. We became online friends and today I got to meet him in person.

Tim, in his Dodge test-drive

So Tim and I had lunch together and got to know more about each other. I interviewed him on-camera (my little Flip video) and am figuring out a way to post it for your viewing. I was moved by his candid account of the emotional aspects of his battle with obesity and the underlying factors that have contributed. I think anyone would find him motivating--whether your challenge is weight-loss, injury, depression, money, etc.--the message is still about the possibility and hope of overcoming the pain.

Way to go, Tim!! Thank you for your generosity of spirit and good luck with your 12 this year... we'll have one more done tomorrow!

After Tim and I parted ways (at least until tomorrow's race), I wanted to find a relaxing activity to kill some time in the late afternoon. I needed to unwind so I could get to sleep by 8pm, after all, tomorrow would be another 4am wake-up call. I thought I had a great idea but it would take some serious convincing on my part to get my husband to come along... to the Nail Salon for a "manny-peddy"! Can you believe it? He did! I bought this for both of us as our belated Valentine's Day present to ourselves... you can tell he hated it:

I would show you the photo of me in my chair, beside him, but obviously he was too busy to be disturbed with picture-taking!

More Pre-race Pasadena

Friday, February 17th

Picking up from the last post, here are some more images of The Pub at Golden Road. I really enjoyed my meal here and got to meet the owners, who are both vegan, which is why they have offer so many vegetarian choices:
The menu.

The view from inside, looking out onto the Doggy Deck.

The vegetarian Bahn Mi sandwich--delicious!!
After lunch I headed back to Pasadena (only about 15 minutes away) and decided to scope out the Rose Bowl area so I would know my way around on race-day. The area immediately surrounding the Rose Bowl turned out to be spectacular, and historic I later learned, and so I spent some time jogging/walking my way through the neighborhood:
Tree-lined streets. If you get a chance to run Rock-n-Roll Pasadena you'll run right through here!

Beautiful Arts and Crafts-style architecture throughout the neighborhood

Home Sweet Home...for someone.

Curb appeal!

I want this for my house. :-)

More beauty across the valley. The Rose Bowl is just out of the picture, to the right and down the hillside.

My favorite house in the 'hood

The historic Gamble house, open for tours. I didn't get to take the tour this trip, but someday I'll come back and do so.